Freedom of Information request reveals the airport runs once run by community provider FACT

Photos of FACT mini bus at Stansted airport in 2015. PHOTO: Traveller

Photos of FACT mini bus at Stansted airport in 2015. PHOTO: Traveller - Credit: Archant

A Freedom of Information request to March Town Council has revealed that in 2013 community transport provider FACT (Fenland Association for Community Transport) was operating am airport taxi service.

Photos of FACT mini bus at Stansted airport in 2015. PHOTO: Traveller

Photos of FACT mini bus at Stansted airport in 2015. PHOTO: Traveller - Credit: Archant

Former manager Jo Philpott – until last Friday when she resigned – is revealed as having been questioned by the town council in that year about the association’s finances.

“Jo explained that air port run rates were calculated on a ‘not for profit’ basis and the criteria for eligibility to use the service,” the minutes of the March 4 meeting reveal.

Use of FACT as an alternative to conventional taxis was one of 52 points considered in the £170,000 PKF investigation carried out by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The conclusions included the finding that FACT had used public and charitable money to extend and expand it commercial operation.

The council minutes from 2013 reveal that Mrs Philpott “explained that her purpose was to raise awareness of the vital role that FACT provided to local rural and town communities”.

She also explained that FACT “cannot survive” on the £38,000 a year funding it got from the county council and her roles was to explore “all opportunities for funding, so any help would be appreciated”.

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At the time FACT had 34 vehicles plus adapted vehicles for special needs, she said.

The PKF report was unable to substantiate the allegation made by taxi drivers that FACT had used Thomson local advertising to promote their taxi work.

“It is clear from the screen shots that search engines were bringing back details which suggested FACT was a business associated with the words ‘taxi’, ‘mini-cab’ and private hire.

“PKF has been unable to establish whether in 2012, when these allegations were made, whether FACT was registered as a free user with Thomson Local or Google. FACT has commented that they have never knowingly subscribed to Thomson Local or Google.”

A photo of a small FACT vehicle picking up at Stansted airport has been sent to this newspaper and a March resident has been in touch to reveal how was part of a group of 15 friends who once booked a FACT mini bus for a return trip to Stansted.

He said the taxi journey by mini bus cost him and his wife £40 each meaning FACT grossed £600 for the double trip –to take them to the airport and to collect them a week later.

“The return was very late,” he said. “We arrived back at 11.30pm but there was no FACT minibus to take us home. We had to call and wait for a driver and vehicle to get from March which took at least two hours.”

March Town Council minutes also reveal that in 2011 FACT applied for financial help as a “contribution towards the cost of a new mini bus”.

The council gave them £86.50.

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